Nearly every week I see reports of people leaving their dogs in their cars on hot days “just for a minute” while they go shopping. Of course, “just a minute” is often much, much longer. Some people think just by leaving the windows cracked an inch or so works, but often it does nothing.
Police often deal with dogs that are heavily panting and freaking out because they feel they are going to die. A search for the owner commences while someone feeds the animal a bottle of cool water.
A video on YouTube is making the rounds, where a veterinarian, Dr. Ernie Ward, “America’s pet advocate” (who happens to be a University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine graduate), shuts himself in a car on a hot day and relates just how hot it is.
Ward sits in a car on a hot day for half an hour to show just how hot it gets during the day, even with windows cracked. Words like “stifling” and “oppressive” come to mind when he has only been in the car for less than 10 minutes. There is no breeze in the car, the heat continues to climb and he is sweating profusely. As he points out, while people can sweat through their skin, dogs can only sweat through their tongue.
The point he is making is, unless the car is on with AC running, the reason you should never leave your pet in the car is the same reason you would never leave your child in a hot car – it’s hot! And dogs have no idea what’s going on or control over their situation; at least you can open the door to let some cooler air in.
So next time you decide to bring Fifi with you on your next shopping trip where dogs are not allowed, think twice before shutting the dog in your car in the sun. Better yet, keep them at home.
This article appeared in the July 10 edition of the Milton Herald.